A couple behind a R278 million Ponzi scheme has been convicted in the Thembalethu Regional Court in George in the Southern Cape.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) said in a statement on Monday that husband and wife, Graeme Minne, 54, and 52-year-old Carolina Frederika Minne, were convicted on Tuesday July 18 for fraud related to running a multi-million rand Ponzi scheme.

Hawks spokesperson, Captain Lloyd Ramovha, said the accused duped unsuspecting victims between September 2002 and November 2009 into investing funds ranging from a minimum of R100 000, with promises of higher than usual returns on forex trading, with victims being promised profits of up to 65% on annual basis.

“About R278 786 853 was amassed from almost 934 clients in the said period and the couple reportedly did limited trading (less than R5 million) at a net loss and then in a typical pyramid scheme fashion, they resorted to paying initial investors using new investors funds.”

“The Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Unit’s relentless investigations put a stop to the duo’s lavish lifestyle and arrested them during 2009, culminating in this conviction,” Ramovha said.

“The two have been convicted for fraud and contravening section 11 read with sections 1 and 91(4) of the Banks Act, nr 94 of 1990. The sentencing proceedings are set to commence on the 21st of September 2017. They remain out on R50 000 bail each.”

Western Cape Hawks head, Major General Nombuso Khoza, said: “The public is hereby reminded to avoid putting their hard earned money at risk by investing with illegitimate investments schemes. Anything that looks too good to be true it usually is.”